Swedish Autumn, Butternut Squash/ Chestnut Hummus, and Jerusalem- my city of dreams.

We all dream when we sleep. Sometimes our dreams are symbolic, sometimes they are strange, and sometimes they are empty and easily forgotten. A reoccurring place in my dreams is the Holy city of Jerusalem. I have dreamed of it now in total…say, 10 times? maybe? And it is always the same thing but different scenery. I am either trying to find a secret passage that will lead me to Al Quds (Jerusalem in Arabic, it means The Sacred) or I am trying to reach the Dome of the Rock. Each dream more detailed than the one before it and I am still trying to figure out what it all means.

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I had the chance to travel to Al Quds during 2011. My trip to Jerusalem was preluded by a dream that my mother and I were both praying in the direction of the Dome of the Rock. The day after, I woke up, bought my ticket, and was ready to travel a week after. It is easily the most significant and meaningful trip I have ever made simply because The Holy Land has everything I love. History, Spirituality, and deep deep lore and culture. It also happens to have deeeeelicious food, and trust me…I have had Hummus all over the Middle East but if there are a people that know how to make Hummus, it is the Palestinians. And what can you say to that? It is their native dish and they have of course perfected it! When I arrived to the Holy Land, I was not told- I was URGED to go to Hummus Lina . I listened and went and I wish in a way that I had never done so. It ruined Hummus for me because nothing came close to ever tasting that good.

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So here I am. Feeling nostalgic in crispy, cold, Autumny Sweden. Getting my cravings for some good ‘ol Palestinian Hummus. I envisioned a plate of earthy goodness, with some bread, and three or four friends surrounding that plate. A refuge from the Autumn chills. We set to the task of making some Hummus and then I received an idea (which was not welcomed by my Palestinian friend, who immediately replied “WHY? why do you want to ruin Hummus? what has Hummus ever done to you??”) I wanted to incorporate my own touch to it and experiment a little. Despite being cold, Autumn in Sweden is gorgeous and all the fall colors are an inspiration to create for me. Plus, all these chestnuts and Butternut Squashes are just begging to be used. So. A meal that will be shared by many must be prepared by many. For me, it makes the meal all the tastier. We set out to prepare our ingredients and mise en place (you can find the recipe here).
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and quite honestly….the best thing with food is not just eating the delicious finished product its the journey to it. Especially if you are cooking something for the very first time. You are using your hands in new ways, discovering new flavor combinations, and using familiar ingredients differently.
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As colder times fall upon us, the sun becoming more scarce, and the trees shedding their leaves…the act of roasting, the smell that fills the kitchen, the heat from the oven, and warm pleasant conversation with good friends is like a small summer but from the inside.

We prepared two separate bowls of Hummus. The first bowl was filled with the original Palestinian Hummus which would act as the foundation of the dish and the second bowl was of the Butternut Squash and Chestnut Hummus. Due to all the Autumn colors around me I sought to incorporate them in the dish as well as I could. I found that using Turmeric and Saffron did the trick and that they added delicious flavors to the Hummus. I wanted to, yet again, somehow…through colors and flavors incorporate the Middle East with Scandinavia in a dish…and this seemed to be the one. After several hours of peeling, roasting, soaking, boiling, and pureeing the dish was finally ready to be assembled.
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The foundation as mentioned above was the original Palestinian Hummus, the Middle East. Then, on top I put the Autumn invention- the roasted Butternut Squash and Chestnut Hummus, Swedish Autumn. I topped it with roasted pine nuts and grated some Gruyere cheese on top of it and drizzled some Truffle Oil, the final finishing. The journey was over and we had all reached the Dome of the Rock. It was sweet. It was earthy. It tasted of comfort, of time, of patience, and promise. A promise that I will one day see the Dome of the Rock again, that I will eat at Hummus Lina, and enjoy a new journey amid all things holy. Land, people, and food.

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